With over a decade of experience across the Metcash group, plus 16 years with major fuel company Exxon Mobil including four years in France and Germany, Mark Laidlaw joined Mitre 10 with a brief to turn the company around.
"In April 2010, I was appointed CEO to Mitre 10. Metcash had just acquired a 50-per-cent share of the business. The other 50 per cent was owned by the Mitre 10 storeowners at that time but was subsequently purchased by Metcash in July 2012. Before that, I was general manager for IGA in Victoria from 2004 to 2010. It was a time of significant growth and a fantastic time to be involved with IGA and the independent grocery sector."
"Metcash appointed myself and two other senior executives, Carl Salem, General Manager Merchandise, and Robin Johnston, General Manager Commercial, to drive the turnaround. The $42-billion hardware sector was going through dramatic change, with the introduction of new entrant Woolworthsthrough its Masters chain planning to take on the market leader, Bunnings. The home improvement market is very fragmented and will go through considerable consolidation over the next three to five years."
After the two big-box operators, the remainder is split among hundreds of independent operators, from timber yards to plumbing and bathroom specialists. Currently, there are two wholesale suppliers servicing the independent sector, Mitre 10 and Danks, which was acquired by Woolworths in 2009.